Lobbying is a big business in New Jersey. The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission reports that more than $58 million was spent last year by businesses, organizations, and lobbyists to try to influence lawmakers, the governor, and the general public about issues before state government bodies and bills pending in the Legislature.
Every year, much is made of the biggest lobbying firms (Princeton Public Affairs, Public Strategies Impact, and MBI-GluckShaw) and how much they receive from clients and spend on trying to sway legislation and regulations. But who pays the most to them, and to their own inside lobbyists, to push for bills they support and block those they oppose and how much did they spend last year?
1. Public Service Enterprise Group, including PSE&G, $863,073
The utility had 11 internal lobbyists, including president and chairman Ralph Izzo, and also paid seven firms, among them Princeton Public Affairs and Public Strategies. All but about $37,000 went to salaries for staff who lobby full- or part-time and support personnel or to the outside firms — which got the lion’s share — or $461,000. According to PSEG’s lobbying reports, it sought to promote energy policy within the governor’s office, worked with legislators on vegetation management and storm management, and lobbied about several storm response and reliability measures in the fourth quarter of 2012.
2. New Jersey Hospital Association, $817,265
Most of its money went to salaries and support for nine staff who lobbied at least part time, although the NJHA also paid one outside lobbying firm $60,000. The association also used about $190,000 for communications, including $130,000 for an Internet site. Among the bills it promoted were ones requiring newborn screenings, establishing a pediatric-respite care program license, and limiting actions against court-appointed mental health professionals in family court matters.
3. Honeywell International, Inc., $756,000
Headquartered in Morristown, the Fortune 500 company paid seven lobbying consultants $721,000 and had one internal lobbyist. It reported primarily holding discussions with NJ Transit about transportation and project development issues and supporting increased Urban Transit Hub Tax Credits.
4. Barnabas Health, $753,472
A group of 10 hospitals and health centers primarily in Essex County and the Jersey Shore spent $300,000 on outside lobbyists, paid $151,800 for a staff lobbyist and support, paid $133,000 in dues — mostly to the New Jersey Hospital Association — and reported $166,000 of communications expenses that included a healthcare policy forum. It opposed one bill requiring medical bills to be standardized and accompanied by an explanatory disclosure form and another allowing corporate business-tax credits to developers for capital investments for repurposing healthcare facilities.
5. Verizon NJ, $668,716
The telecom company had five staff lobbying and paid $470,000 to 10 outside firms. Among legislation it opposed were bills requiring employer notification when relocating a call center to a foreign country, directing cable television companies to provide energy-efficient converter boxes to customers, and calling for cellphone companies to inform subscribers that cellphone global-positioning systems can be deactivated.
6. AARP NJ, $625,324
The state office of the national organization had only in-house lobbyists, paid $203,000, and spent $328,000 on communications — much of that on printing and postage for mailings. AARP lobbied on a number of issues of interest to older adults: It supported making the financial exploitation of the elderly a criminal offense and a supplemental appropriation for nursing homes, but opposed a bill regarding the designation of surrogates to make healthcare decisions for patients.
7. Prudential Financial, $592,402
The Newark-based firm employed six lobbyists and nearly all of the money it spent on lobbying paid their salaries and support staff. Prudential reported its involvement in Department of Banking and Insurance discussions about account plans, block reinsurance, and coinsurance matters, as well as legislation advocacy.
8. CSC Holdings, LLC, $538,126
The main operating subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp. listed five staff lobbyists but paid nearly all of its lobbying expenses to five outside firms. CSC met with the governor’s office and Board of Public Utilities, and monitored several cable-TV related bills and some that were more general, including one to prohibit the adoption of new rules exceeding federal standards unless specifically authorized by state law or necessary to protect the public health, safety, or welfare.
9. New Jersey State League of Municipalities, $495,089
Nearly all of the money spent by the group representing the state’s municipalities paid for the salaries of six staff lobbyists and support personnel. The League of Municipalities had a long list of bills that it supported or proposed in a range of areas, virtually all with some impact on local governments. They ranged from revising animal cruelty penalties to restrictions on the use of pesticides at childcare centers to allowing email addresses to be redacted in public records requests.
10. New Jersey Business and Industry Association, $490,480
The NJBIA also spent most of its money on salaries and support for seven staff lobbyists. Representing 21,000 businesses across the state, the group reported discussions with the state Department of Treasury on the potential impact of sales, income, and business-tax changes, as well as discussions with the BPU and Department of Environmental Protection on clean energy, solar, and offshore wind programs and a superstorm Sandy disaster-relief meeting with the Department of State.